Have you ever
noticed how much cheaper an internal hard drive is compared to an external hard drive?
In most cases, you are paying that price difference strictly for the case and firewire/USB
bridge, because the drive inside the case is no different than an internal drive
you may purchase to install into your Mac. Also, you will notice that several online
vendors, such as TigerDirect.com, as well as several retailers, such as Fry's Electronics,
often have sales on internal OEM parallel ATA (PATA) hard drives - the kind of sales
that are really hard to pass up. How about a 400GB hard drive for $100? You may have
an older Mac that doesn't support that size of a drive, or maybe all of your hard
drive slots are filled up. Or, if you're lucky enough to have one of the newer G5's,
then your your Mac only takes a serial ATA (SATA) drive, and you won't find "killer
sales" events on these SATA drives as often (not yet anyway).
The best solution for all of those situations is to purchase an IDE drive and purchase
an external case, and simply install the drive into the case to use as an external
drive. In the past, external cases were costly, and usually pretty ugly looking.
However, times are changing, and one indication of that is the Dual Link Drive Kit offered by ADS Technologies. The Dual Link is an external
case for an IDE hard drive, and includes two firewire ports, a USB 2.0 port, a standard
AC power port, and an on/off switch. The Dual Link sells for $69.99. So for a 400GB
IDE drive on sale for $100, the combination of the Dual Link and the hard drive would
give you a 400GB external Firewire/USB 2.0 drive for $170.
Drive Kit Features
- Add Multi-Gig Storage
To Your PC or MAC
- Instantly Enhance
almost any IDE Hard Drive; ATA-100, ATA-133, or ATA -6 Drive
- Convert your DVD,
or CD Drive to FireWire or USB 2.0
- Supports All Hard
Drives Of Any Size
- Convert Your Internal
Hard Drive to USB 2.0 or FireWire
- Super Fast &
Reliable external storage
- Make your DVD-Recordable
- Intech's SPEEDTOOLS
UTILITIES for MAC OS 9.X and OS X
- Plug in the drive
& it mounts automatically. Adding a drive is fast & easy!
- Hot Swappable - Real
Plug & Play for your External Drives
- Includes Pop-Out
front bezel to cover a hard drive, or remove for CD Drive installation
- Supports sustained
data transfer rates up to 35 MB/Sec.
- Power Supply - Supplies
both 5 Volt and 12 Volts to your drive.
- Silent Ball bearing
fan to keep your drive cool and running smooth.
- Micro-Slot security
protection. Keep your drive from walking away.
- Compatible with Anchor
Pad and Kensington Micro-Slot Locks.
- Lighted rear power
- Hard Drive activity
- Converts drives to
External FireWire Drive; Support for IDE Hard drives (UDMA 33/66 or ATA100/133),
CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, or DVD-R/DVD+RW
- Stackable and Daisy-Chainable
- Provides (2) Two
400 Mbits/sec ports
- Connect one port
to Host computer
- Use second port for
daisy chain to a second drive, your Digital Camcorder, Scanner or PYRO Web Cam
USB 2.0 features
- Converts drives
to External USB 2.0 Drive
- Support for
IDE Hard drives (UDMA 33/66 or ATA-100/133), CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM,
- Provides (1)
480 Mbits/sec port
- Dual - Link
Drive Kit Enclosure
- 6' USB 2.0
- 6' FireWire
- Flat ribbon
- Screw kit for
installing hard drive
- Removable bezel
cover for hard drive installations
- Power cable
- CD Includes:
Drivers, SpeedTools Utilities for Mac from INTECH Software
The caveat to
buying an external case is that you will have to be installing the hard drive into
it yourself. I did the installation and removal process on the Dual Link several
times, as a means to test it out, as well as using it to test different sized drives.
There are a number of small screws that must be dealt with, so if you have big fingers,
you may find some challenge in that. However, for the most part, it was very easy
and very straightforward.
The Dual Link drive kit - unassembled
There are a few components
to be dealt with: The metal case where the drive is installed (where the bridge/power
circuitry resides), a metal plate that covers the case, the slip-on plastic case
cover, and the front plastic cover. When you first receive the Dual Link, you need
to slip off the case cover, unscrew the 4 screws holding the front cover on, and
then lift off the metal case cover. Connect the IDE drive of your choice to the power
and IDE cables in the case, and then attach the drive to the case with 4 provided
screws. All the screws are small, but the drive screws are just a little bit bigger
than the case screws. Note also that all the screws are mixed together in a plastic
bag. The smaller screws may seem to work, but they will not securely fasten to the
drive, so be sure to use the bigger screws.
Once the drive is connected, it's a piece of cake to re-assemble the case. Connect
the LED cable from the circuitry to the front cover, fasten the metal cover to the
case with 4 case screws, attach the front cover to the case with another 4 case screws,
and then slide the black case cover up to the front cover and fasten it in the back
with the 2 longer screws. From there, it was just a matter of connecting the power
cable, connecting the firewire cable (alternately, you could use a USB 2.0 connection),
and then flipping the switch on.
I not only found the installation process simple, but I experienced what I call "tinker"
satisfaction. As a child, I always loved toys where you build things, like Lincoln
Logs and Legos. Putting together my own external hard drive was much like that, but
not so overwhelming as putting together a computer (I generally stress when working
on the inside of a computer in fear of "destroying" something). The best
part is, after tinkering with the assembly kit, you have the immediate satisfaction
of hooking up the drive you just built, and watching the drive show up on your desktop.
Once you have
a drive installed in your Dual Link, it behaves just like any other Firewire/USB
external drive. You can choose to use the USB or Firewire port to perform data transfer.
My G4 does not have USB 2.0, so I opted for the Firewire connection. Thanks to the
two firewire ports, I was able to daisy-chain the drive into my current firewire
chain (I have two other external firewire drives). One thing that the Dual Link has
over my other two firewire drives is that it uses a standard power cable for connecting
to power. Both of my other drives have bulky power adapters that add to my power
cord clutter, but the Dual Link has the power adapter built-in, so any standard power
cable will connect the drive. The Dual Link also has an on/off switch so that you
can flip a switch to turn off the drive (versus having to remove the power cord).
Unlike external cases that I've seen on the market in the past, plain and ugly, the
Dual Link has a very sleek design. The internal case is a very plain metal case,
but it comes with an outer sleeve and front cover that really spruce up the look
as well as absorbing sound and making the drive easier to carry. The main sleeve
is black with two rubber grips on the rear sides. The front cover, complete with
drive I/O LED, is silver. The Dual Link's overall appearance is very nice.
The Dual Link in operation
was made to provide everything you need, including a variety of screws, power cord,
firewire cable, and a USB cable. Not even printers come with USB cables anymore!
If you're going to use your drive as a firewire drive, you can use the USB cable
to hook up your USB printer. I was very impressed with all the items that came with
the Dual Link package. When you make a purchase, it's nice to have everything you
need to make the device work.
The Dual Link has a small fan, and about an inch of space between the drive and the
top of the case. Because the internal drive is connected to the bottom of the case,
most of the heat is diverted to the metal on the bottom of the case. The Dual Link
sits on 4 rubber feet, so it's not transferring that heat to anything else. The design
of the case made for excellent handling of heat. I also found that the drive runs
very quiet. During a copy of 7GB of files to the Dual Link, I had to literally press
my ear up against the drive to hear the disk writing. The case does a good job of
During my different tests, I installed several different drives into the Dual Link:
a 60GB Maxtor drive, a 250GB Maxtor drive, and a 400GB Seagate drive. In all testing,
the drive performed reliably with consistent and speedy file transfers. For a copy
of 5GB of data from my internal drive to the Dual Link, the copy completed in 3 minutes.
A copy of 5GB from the Dual Link to my internal drive took 5 minutes. There is optional
software that comes with the Dual Link, Intech SpeedTools, which can be used to alter
the throughput to a drive, so you could conceivably bump the speed up. From my past
experience with firewire devices, however, I have found that going for speed tends
to compromise stability, so I shy away from that. On the other hand, Mac OS X may
handle it better these days than it did four years ago.
It was difficult to find any fault with the Dual Link. In fact, during my very first
run with the drive, I completed the installation and initial testing, and thought
the drive was perfect. I was downright excited about it. Up until the point when
I shutdown my Mac, that is. Lo and behold, there was one thing that the Dual Link
doesn't do that my other firewire drives do: it doesn't power down when my Mac shuts
down. The power bridge on the Dual Link is not Mac savvy, which was a disappointment,
especially given how close I was to giving the drive kit a 5-star rating. In a server
room, this is a non-issue, but for most home uses, people want their connected devices
to power off when their Mac shuts down. Granted, I can use the on/off switch to shutoff
the Dual Link, but I don't want to have to remember to do that at every shutdown.
Once the internal drive spins down (which it does do after a shutdown), there's only
the fan that's actually still powered, so you could conceivably just leave it on.
However, energy conscious owners, as well as those who keep their computers in their
bedrooms, will want the Dual Link to be shutoff. Given that most external firewire
drives power off automatically when a Mac shuts down, it's apparent that the technology
is out there. ADS can, and should, incorporate this into the Dual Link kit.
The ADS Dual Link drive kit is a stylish external hard drive case that sports two
firewire ports and a USB 2.0 port. The Dual Link allows you to purchase an inexpensive
IDE drive and convert it easily into a valuable external firewire or USB 2.0 drive.
I installed IDE drives ranging from 60GB up to 400GB into the kit, and experienced
great performance. The drive has an excellent case design for handling drive heat
and suppressing drive noise, and the sleek black and silver outer casing with the
rubber grips is a far cry better than external cases of old. Data transfers over
firewire were fast and consistent. It comes with everything you need, including the
firewire and USB cables. The only fault I found in the kit is that it does not have
a Mac savvy power bridge (aka, the Dual Link does not power off when your Mac shuts
down). If you are looking to add a large external drive to your Mac, but don't want
to pay the large price tag on an external hard drive, the Dual Link is the way to
go. With the Dual Link, you can snag the next "killer" deal on an IDE hard
drive and build yourself your own external drive for half the price that external
drive would normally cost. I highly recommend the Dual Link drive kit.
- Inexpensive way to obtain
a large external hard drive
- Easy and fun to assemble
- Built-in power adapter,
2 firewire ports, and 1 USB 2.0 port
- Stylish design, includes
- Quiet, reliable and consistent
- Power bridge is not Mac
- Needs better instructions
on which screws to use for what
- Big fingers may struggle
with the small screws
4 1/2 out of 5 Mice